Soul Serenade: Percy Sledge, “It Tears Me Up”

When word came yesterday that Percy Sledge had died at the age of 74, social media lit up with mentions of “When a Man Loves a Woman.” And why not? Sledge’s 1966 smash was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 ...

Soul Serenade: The Cookies, “Chains”

 

The history of the Cookies goes all the way back to Brooklyn in 1954. It was there that Dorothy Jones and her cousin Beulah Robertson got together with Darlene McCrae. Robertson didn’t last long with the group however, and ...

Soul Serenade: The Isley Brothers, “That Lady”

 

I spent last weekend in New Jersey. It’s always good to be back in my home state, but I’m beginning to wonder if there’s a place for me there, if I still fit in. It’s been over four years ...

Soul Serenade: The Coasters, “Down In Mexico”

 
What record do you think of when someone mentions the Coasters? Most people would have said “Yakety Yak,” “Charlie Brown,” or “Poison Ivy.” That was before Quentin Tarantino entered the picture with his 2007 film Death Proof. The ...

Soul Serenade: Gary U.S. Bonds, “New Orleans”

Those of you who have been following along may have  noticed that there was no Soul Serenade column last week. It was the first time that the column didn’t appear in its weekly spot for nearly five years, but there was a very ...

Soul Serenade: The Orlons, “South Street”

This week I am seeking an answer to the age-old question — where do all the hippies meet? If you’re from Philadelphia, please don’t shout out the answer.

Audrey and the Teenettes got together in Philly in the late ’50s. The original ...

Soul Serenade: Joe Tex, “Show Me”

Do you know who Joseph Arrington, Jr. was? If I told you where he was from you would figure it out quickly. He was born in Rogers, Texas in 1935 and moved to Baytown with his mother when his parents divorced. In ...

Soul Serenade: Don Covay, “Mercy, Mercy”

Don Covay left us recently. He left behind a splendid resume that reflected his work as a singer and songwriter. Covay never allowed himself to be pigeonholed into one genre or another. His music reached out to fans of soul, R&B, and ...

Soul Serenade: Garland Green, “Jealous Kind Of Fella”

Popular songs are a funny thing. What is it that makes some hit songs live on forever, while others are forgotten with the passage of time? Is there something in the melody or lyrics that give a song its staying power? I ...

Soul Serenade: The Valentinos, “It’s All Over Now”

I read an interview with Bobby Womack a few years ago in which he said that when he first heard that the Rolling Stones planned to record “It’s All Over Now,” he was not happy. He asked his manager to tell Mick ...

Soul Serenade: Isaac Hayes, “Walk On By”

As 1968 began, things at Stax Records were uncertain to say the least. The label had been born in 1957 as Satellite Records, the brainchild of founder Jim Stewart, who was joined a year later by his sister Estelle Axton. Initially Satellite ...

Soul Serenade: The Temptations, “My Girl” at 50

I saw the classic Temptations lineup at a local college in 1967. My date was a pretty girl named Mary who took the train all the way from Long Island to New Jersey in order to go to the show with me. ...

Soul Serenade: The Shirelles, “Tonight’s The Night”

There’s a lot of talk about girl groups, and rightfully so. Girl groups made some great music in the ’60s. But if you ever try to journey back to where it all started it’s inevitable that you will run into the Shirelles ...

Soul Serenade: The Contours, “First I Look At The Purse”

Statistics tell us that the economy is improving. The stock market is reaching new highs, lots of jobs have been created, and the unemployment rate is down. Here in Rhode Island however, it’s hard to see things getting better. The state has ...

Soul Serenade: The Chiffons, “One Fine Day”

There are a variety of ways that songs and artists move to the top of the list (yes, there is a list) of potential features for Soul Serenade. Sometimes it can be a simple as hearing the great opening riff of a ...

Soul Serenade: Freddie Scott, “Are You Lonely For Me”

For my last column from New Jersey last week I chose to recognize my time there by featuring Madeline Bell, who is a native of Newark, the state’s largest city. Now that I’m back in Rhode Island it only seems fair to ...

Soul Serenade: Jerry Butler, “A Brand New Me”

I’m going to Philadelphia tomorrow. It’s exciting for me, so exciting that I’m writing the column a day early so that I can go. I haven’t been there since I moved to Rhode Island, which is closing in on four years ago ...

Soul Serenade: Ohio Players, “Love Rollercoaster”

I’ve never been much of a roller coaster fan. To be honest, even though I know that a lot of people love the ride, I don’t get the appeal. The same goes for any of those rides that are fast and high. ...